Energy Cast / August 30, 2021
Zinc oxide batteries have been powering our lives for years. However, anyone who has ever tried to re-charge them knows that it doesn’t work for long.
As we discussed in Episode 56, zinc batteries will form spiky microscopic dendrites, which will eventually puncture the membrane, touch the cathode and short out the cell.
Eos, an Edison, NJ-based battery developer, has invented a solution to keep these spikes at bay. Whereas my previous guest had demonstrated a “zinc sponge,” Eos describes a multi-stage approach, based on:
Joe Mastrangelo, CEO at Eos, says their technology has an advantage over market-dominant Lithium-ion batteries on two fronts, duration and materials. Whereas lithium-ion batteries can have supply chains wrapping around the world, Joe says Eos set out to base their design on five, “earth abundant, conflict-free” materials—Titanium, Graphitized felt, Zinc, Bromine, and Plastic. They also found suppliers for these materials who serve industries outside the energy sector.
“We’re a very insignificant portion of the overall use of those raw materials when you look at the other applications where those materials are used,” he says.
Regarding duration, Joe says Eos’ batteries were specifically designed for long-term, stationary storage.
“When you start looking beyond six hours, you see some of the weaknesses in the lithium systems,” he says. “There are companies like us developing technologies that can go beyond four hours.”
I asked about customer hesitancy to switch from lithium-ion batteries with the technology already so entrenched in the industry. Joe says the duration advantage has been a strong selling point. For large customers, he says they’ve worked to be “agnostic to the energy management system that our customers use.”
He adds, “As a new entrant to the market, you’re not going to be able to walk into a large utility and say, ‘We have to re-train your workforce.’”
It’s Eos’ smaller customers where most of their growth has been to date. Joe adds that these customers also prefer a more turnkey solution than larger customers like utilities. He believes Eos’ inherent advantages will eventually win over that market as well.
“What I knew from my prior career [at GE] was that this was one of these generational secular shifts in the industry that if you can bring the right product to market, you can capture a large demand curve,” he says. “We are truly pioneering something here.”